On the appeal in Coimbra administrative court.

 

Today Paulo Portes claimed at 13.00 that the court in Coimbra had affirmed his decision of keeping the Borndiep out of Portuguese national waters. His incorrect statements made it clear that he had not read the court decidion, which was actually also impossible as it only arrived at the lawyers office at 16.30.

The true court decision stated that Minister of Defence Portas had no authorization to take this decision. But that this could only be done by the harbour authorities. This decision once again shows the abuse of power by minister Portas. The Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs had previous also stated that Paulo Portas abused International sea law and violated the international convention of the law of the sea.

On September 6th, the administrative and fiscal court of Coimbra heard the plea of Não te Prives, AJP, UMAR, Club Safe and Women on Waves for the protection of their fundamental rights and freedom. After a hearing that lasted all day the judge decided that none of the fundamental rights; freedom of expression, freedom of reunion, freedom of manifestation, freedom of informing and of being informed had been violated. She ruled that Women on Waves is abusing the law to provide help to women. Women on Waves will appeal the decision in a higher court. If necessary we will continue our fight against the injustice until we reach European Court of Human Rights.

The fact that the law only applies to the national territory forces Portuguese women to travel abroad to be able to have safe and legal abortions. 10 000 women avoid the restrictive Portuguese law every year by travelling to Spain to have an abortion Women on Waves offers a safe alternative without abusing the law. Instead, they use the law to save lives and protect health. Illegal and unsafe abortion in Portugal costs 2 to 5 women their lives every year and 5 000 women are hospitalized with post illegal abortion complications. Portuguese women have a 150 times higher risk to die from an illegal abortion in Portugal then women in the rest of Europe, where abortion is legal.

Portuguese state is abusing its power to prevent us from using the means with which we choose to express our opinion and to provide information. The ship and the mobile treatment room \ art work are our ways of expressing ourselves, a fundamental human right.

In Portugal the treatment room is an educational tool. In every educational process people learn skills and facts by using practical examples. We have been restricted in our means to provide information, which is another fundamental human right.

Women on Waves did not just want an abstract debate but wanted to be able to show a safe and legal alternative, which would treat women with dignity. By preventing the ship from entering we are being censured, and kept from providing objective scientific information.

The court did not acknowledge the approval of the Dutch Ministry of Health for the clinic and for the way the abortion procedures that can take place on the ship. In 2002 The Dutch Minister of health approved the abortion protocol of Women on Waves and stated that is was safe and legal.

During the hearing Portuguese medical experts were questioned about medical abortions with the use of the abortion pill. However, seeing as all forms of abortion are illegal in Portugal, Portuguese doctors have little experience and knowledge on the subject. A large international expertise, however, is available. The World Health Organization has written a report about the safety of this abortion method, and the abortion pill is used safely in many other countries around the world.

Taking the abortion pill Mifepristone is an irreversible method of inducing an abortion. A medicinal abortion consists of two parts; first, Mifepristone is taken to stop the pregnancy. The next step is emptying the uterus, a process that will occur naturally, since the pregnancy has stopped. However, to make sure that this process will take place faster and will be complete misoprostol is given afterwards. In New Zealand there is case law confirming that the abortion takes place with taking Mifepristol.

The Portuguese state is revealing its disproportional authoritarian attitude by continuing to prohibit use of the ship, which is an essential part of the Women on Waves campaign.

By tomorrow night, Women on Waves will publish a protocol on their website, one that will describe what the safe way is of using Misoprostol also known as Cytotec or Arthrotec, in a medicinally induced abortion. Women around the world have the right to information, and Women on Waves will not have one court decision stop their communication with women around the world.

For further information 00 351 91 4477770